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Languages in Liberia

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Being founded by Americans for freed slaves, Liberia would be an English speaking country. These former slaves, who call themselves Americo-Liberiansm, who populated the colony, still clung to speaking English and declared English to be the official language to be adopted when the colony finally became a sovereign state.  Up to the present, English is still the official medium of communication adopted by the country despite not being used by a majority of the population.

When the Americo-Liberians arrived, there were indigenous people who were already thriving in the adjacent area. These groups had their own languages. Other languages that can be heard spoken in Liberia are Bassa, Vai, Kpelle, Loma and Mende. Actually, there are more languages but the above-mentioned are the most notable and widely spoken. Bassa and Vai, are the two most dominant languages among these various ethnic tribes cohabiting in Liberia.

The Bassa language is spoken by about 350,000 people in Liberia. Packets of Bassa speakers are also known to be present in Sierrea Leone. The Bassa language has been long before used in the area before the Americo-Liberians came but the script for the Bassa language only came about in 1907. How to write the Bassa language was invented by Thomas Narvin Lewis while studying at Syracuse University. He taught his method of writing to the children when he returned to Liberia.

Another language with considerable speakers in Liberia, about 104,000 is the Vai language. What’s amazing about Vai is that its writing system is not based from the Latin script. There are also about 15,000 speakers of Vai in Sierra Leone.

There is also a Creole English that is developing. This amalgamation of local languages and the English languages however are just common among the educated Liberians.  

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